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District of Columbia County, District of Columbia
October 20, 2004
Hours: Wed-Sun, 11am-7pm, closed Mon-Tues
Metro Routes: 25 Richmond. Exit the bus at Mandell St. Walk two blocks north on Mandell. The museum will be on your right, fronting Sul Ross St.
Tucked into Houston’s Montrose neighborhood in a building designed by renowned Italian architect Renzo Piano is The Menil Collection, one of Houston’s greatest treasures. The Menil, a gift of Schlumberger heiress Dominique de Menil and husband John, serves as the primary depository of the de Menil’s extensive private art collection of over 15,000 pieces. The collection dates from the Paleolithic era to the 20th century, and primarily concentrates on four areas: antiquity, Byzantine and medieval, tribal, and 20th century. In addition to the permanent collection, a series of exhibitions rotates several times a year, featuring additional pieces from the Menil’s collection, as well as exhibitions by modern photographers and artists. In addition to the main gallery, there are several nearby satellite galleries and locations worth visiting. These are either operated directly by the Menil Collection or are other independent museums that were also created by Dominique de Menil and are associated with the museum. All are within an easy walking distance of the main collection. I think that the Menil is one of Houston’s greatest cultural assets, especially since Dominique de Menil was pressured by a number of leading museums in other cities that were seeking this collection after her death. Instead, she chose to leave it in the city she called home for much of her life, as a gift to its citizens. There is no collection quite like this one, and the fact that it's free of charge makes it even better. For architecture buffs, the collection’s Renzo Piano building is worth the trip alone.
While visiting the Menil, expect to see modern art works by artists like Andy Warhol, Mark Rothko, Henri Matisse, Salvador Dali, and Pablo Picasso. Other galleries exhibit antiquities, including a piece dated from 22,000 to 15,000 BC, Byzantine and medieval religious works, and tribal art from Asia, Oceania, and the Pacific Northwest. The sheer size of the collection is absolutely breathtaking, especially when you consider that all of this was collected by one couple, and how many pieces are not displayed at any one time due to lack of space. Sure, there are much larger art museums, but I challenge you to find one that exclusively exhibits such a large collection from one source.
Other Nearby Exhibits:
From journal Houston - The Best of the Rest
August 24, 2000
The Menil Collection is a unique museum environment located in the Montrose area. The Menil Collection is the centerpiece of a neighborhood featuring satellite gallery spaces and related cultural institutions in a parklike setting. John and Dominique Menil have put together a collection that is considered to be one of the most important privately assembled collections in the twentieth century, with over 15,000 pieces.
Dominique Menil intended this museum/gallery to be one where people could sit and contemplate the art and it is true to her vision. Only portions of the collection are shown at a time to enable the visitor to fully appreciate the art. Collections are rotated, so that one never becomes bored with the Menil Collection.
From journal Houston......Space City, Texas